UM Verbs in Chamorro

UM verbs are a class of verbs that use the Yo’-type pronouns as the Subject pronouns – when the pronoun is the subject of the sentence. They are called UM verbs here because the affix um is used to conjugate these verbs. There are actually two affixes that are used to conjugate UM verbs, the first is UM and the second is MAN. Both will be explained here.

To conjugate with UM, there are two cases you must look for:

1) If the verb begins with a vowel simply prefix the verb with um and you have your first conjugation.

Example:   o’mak  -> umo’mak          to bathe

2) If the verb begins with a consonant, you insert um into the first Consonant-Vowel pair in the first syllable.

Example:   kati -> kumati      to cry

The forms umo’mak and kumati are the “completed” forms of the verbs.

Umo’mak yo’.    I bathed. / I showered.

Kumati yo’.    I cried.

To conjugate the “continuous” form of the verb, the verb needs to undergo reduplication. Reduplication is when we repeat a syllable in a word.

1) With vowel-initial words, we simply need to reduplicate the vowel, but separating the duplicates with a glottal stop.

Example:  o’mak -> umo’mak -> umo’o’mak

2) If the word begins with a consonant, we take the syllable that is the second to the last syllable in the word.

kånta -> kumånta -> kumakant. ;     kanta (2 syllables)    to sing
hugåndo -> humugåndo -> humugagando   ; hugando (3 syllables)    to play

NOTE: If the syllable contains more than just a consonant and vowel pair (like GAN in hugando), you need to duplicate only the first consonant-vowel pair.

The forms umo’o’mak, kumakanta, and humugagando are the “continuous” forms of the verbs.

Umo’o’mak yo’.        I’m bathing.
Kumåkanta yo’.        I’m singing.
Humugågando yo’.  I’m playing.

Dual Case

When a plural pronouns is used with a verb conjugated with um the pronoun refers to only TWO people.


Bumabaila ham.    We are dancing.   (Someone and I are dancing.)

Bumabaila hit.   We are dancing.    (You and I are dancing.)

Bumabaila hamyo. You two are dancing.

Bumabaila siha.  They (2) are dancing.

Plural Case

To express the subject refers to three or more people, we use the plural prefix MAN.

Humånao siha.  They went. (2)

Manhånao siha. They went. (3+)

When the prefix man is attached to words that start with a specific sound, certain changes can occur that may result in a completely new word. Look at the following examples.

 maN         Verb Initial Result Example
 manbmb man + baila -> mambaila
 manpmp man + peska -> mampeska
 manfmam man + faisen -> mamaisen
 mantman man + ta’yok -> mana’yok
 mansmañ man + såga -> mañåga
 manchmañ man + chochu -> mañochu
 mankmang man + kåti -> mangåti
 mangmangg man + gimen -> manggimen

List of UM Verbs

kånta – sing
baila – dance
kåti – cry
tånges – weep
chålek – laugh
chefla – whistle
chochu – eat
gimen – drink
dåndan – to make music
såga – to stay, to reside
ekungok – to listen
o’mak – to bathe
nangu – to swim
kuentos – to talk
peska – to fish
pasehu – to cruise
hugåndo – to play
hånao – to go
tohge – to stand
essitan – to jest
liliko’ – to go around
ta’yok – to jump


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